The continuous disinvestment in parks and open space in Central and North Orange County by the City of Garden Grove, the City of Santa Ana councilmembers and the OC Board of Supervisors is not accidental. It relies on council members’ complicity in this system where developers and corporations rule.
This Op-Ed sheds light on important lessons that the novel Coronavirus is teaching us — as the Coronavirus spreads, homelessness and housing instability are major concerns for many people living in Orange County, especially communities such as the ones living near the Willowick Golf Course. It is in times of increased anxiety, as we take precaution of the Coronavirus, that one finally recognizes how important it is to have a home to go to and stay safe when the media and local officials repeatedly state ‘stay home’. Yet, not everyone has the privilege to stay home. And, for many working class families, the Coronavirus is threatening to exacerbate the economic struggle and it places the most vulnerable at risk.
Council members at the beginning of the meeting unanimously agreed to drop discussion on the deal for now, hours after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel ruled the Council could vote to approve the agreement but couldn’t finalize it before the end of the year.
The ruling possibly ties Garden Grove’s hands on the golf course, with city officials now prohibited from finalizing any development agreement for the golf course likely until after an expansion of the Surplus Land Act — which goes further in restricting the ways cities can’t find exemptions to the law and circumvent it — takes effect next year.
At their next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17, Garden Grove council members will decide whether to lease the 100-acre Willowick Golf Course to hotel development company McWhinney over the next five decades, with currently no information from city staff on exactly how much in dollars the developer would be paying annually for the property.
Garden Grove city officials today will decide whether one of the last remaining open green spaces in a working-class area will be handed to a for-profit developer for decades, despite an ongoing local court battle over whether city officials actually have the legal authority to do so.
Residents of both the Santa Anita neighborhood and Park Santiago neighborhood agree the Council has ignored their opposition to development near their homes — but residents of Santa Anita, a lower-income and predominantly Latino area, say they weren’t listened to as much as residents of Park Santiago, which has more white and higher-income residents.
Garden Grove city officials have put on hold selling off the Willowick Golf Course – owned by Garden Grove and located in Santa Ana – to a for-profit developer and will instead abide by the state Surplus Land Act, which means they’ll look at affordable housing options for the site first.
Development is on the horizon for some of the last remaining open space between Santa Ana and Garden Grove, and resident complaints are mounting about City of Santa Ana efforts to shut out the public while exclusively considering private companies’ bids to build on the area.